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SAfrica could field first black African batsman

December 24, 2014

PORT ELIZABETH, South Africa (AP) — Temba Bavuma is set to become the first black African batsman to play for South Africa when the second cricket test against the West Indies gets underway at St. George’s Park on Boxing Day.

With Quinton de Kock ruled out of the remainder of the three-match series with an ankle ligament injury, Bavuma will take his place in the Proteas lineup if the selectors continue their policy of fielding seven batsmen.

The 24-year-old’s potential debut is a big deal for South Africa, which has fielded only five black African players since readmission in 1991, and has not had any since fast bowler Makhaya Ntini’s last test at the end of 2009.

Despite the fact that almost 80 percent of South Africa’s population is black, Ntini is the only cricketer to have held down a regular place in the national side, taking 390 wickets in 101 tests.

Fast bowlers Monde Zondeki, Mfuneko Ngam and Lonwabo Tsotsobe, and wicketkeeper Thami Tsolekile, all managed a combined 17 tests.

“I’ve come to realise that there are a lot of people out there that I represent - I’m not just playing for myself,” Bavuma said on Wednesday. “I am aware, but it doesn’t really change the ballgame for me.”

Born in Langa, Cape Town’s oldest township, Bavuma was educated at a leading cricket school in Johannesburg, and played for South Africa Under-19s.

He has forged a successful first-class career, scoring 3,631 runs at an average of almost 36, and hit a career-best 162 against Australia A during a South Africa A tour in August.

South Africa is likely to make one other change to the side that thrashed the West Indies by an innings and 220 runs in the first test as it prepares for different conditions in Port Elizabeth.

The Proteas fielded an all-seam attack at Centurion, but the St. George’s Park pitch is traditionally drier and slower, and so legspinner Imran Tahir will be included, most likely at fast bowler Kyle Abbott’s expense.

Left-armer Robin Peterson, who was the original spinner in the squad, was ruled out of the series after splitting his left index finger during a training drill on Tuesday.

Left-arm seamer Kenroy Peters has joined the West Indies after the injured Kemar Roach returned home, but Shannon Gabriel is the most likely replacement for Roach in the playing XI.

The visitors have major concerns around their batting after they were bowled out for 201 and 131 in the first test, but do not have any options available to them.

Left-hander Assad Fudadin was withdrawn from the squad after breaking his right little finger during a warm-up drill, and his replacement, Narsingh Deonarine, is still waiting on travel documents.

Nevertheless, captain Denesh Ramdin believes the players available to him should not want for motivation.

“Playing against the No. 1 team in the world you want to do well, because you get a lot of credit for it,” he said. “Hopefully the rest of the guys look deep into themselves and pull out that magical performance.”

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